Long before the coronavirus pandemic caused havoc across the country, a different type of medical crisis was brewing in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. — a nursing shortage. According to one analysis, the state of Wisconsin even before the pandemic was barely keeping up with nurse retirements and other staff turnover, and there’s no doubt the global COVID-19 pandemic has deepened those problems.
We wanted to understand the state of nursing salaries in Wisconsin for one particularly advanced group of nursing professionals — those with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Such individuals are qualified to take high-level nursing and administrative roles and generally can expect to earn super-sized salaries in exchange.
Average Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP Salaries in Wisconsin
We analyzed salary and employment data in Wisconsin from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on a total of six jobs that are commonly held by DNP graduates: nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, nurse midwife and postsecondary nursing instructor.
Four of the six DNP jobs we studied offer average salaries in Wisconsin that are over $100,000, with nurse anesthetists in Wisconsin averaging an annual wage of more than $230,000. The state ranks No. 4 when compared to the rest of the states. On the flip side, the lowest-paid DNP professionals in Wisconsin are registered nurses, though they still make far more than the average worker in the state, who earns under $50,000. Wisconsin also ranks in the top 10 for nurse midwife salaries, though it’s generally about average for the remainder of the DNP jobs we studied.
How Much Does a DNP Make in Wisconsin?
The average salary ranges from $72,610 to $233,600 in Wisconsin.
Average annual Wisconsin salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$83,690.00|
Jobs for registered nurses are by far the most common, and that holds true in Wisconsin as well as in every other state. In fact, in Wisconsin, RN employment is about 10 times higher than for nurse administrators, the next most widely employed type of DNP graduate. Employment rates in Wisconsin for nurse practitioners were not available.
Wisconsin employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.357|
Five of the biggest cities and metro areas that are entirely or partially in Wisconsin are home to average DNP wages, calculating using the average of all six jobs, have pay rates that are higher than $100,000, with the Appleton area taking the top spot, though Madison was close behind.
Average salary by city, top 5
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
There’s one career path for DNP graduates that’s especially obvious — nurse practitioner. The degree is mentioned in the name of the job, after all. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are authorized to provide many of the same services as physicians. Each state’s rules with regard to NP practice freedom are different, and Wisconsin ranks in the middle of the pack. Despite being a somewhat restrictive practice environment, most cities in the state offer high wages for NPs. The Minneapolis metro area, which includes portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin, has the highest average wage at just over $120,000, with the Janesville-Beloit area coming in second.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area, top 10
NPs in the Milwaukee metro area will have the easiest time finding work, followed by professionals in the Duluth, Minnesota metro, which includes portions of Wisconsin. Statewide data was not available for NP jobs, though, so we can’t say how these areas compare to the state overall.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area, top 10
While the average registered nurse (RN) won’t need a DNP to find a job, RN roles remain popular for DNPs who want to continue providing direct patient care after they complete their degrees. Also, the figures listed below are the average for all those employed in these roles, but DNP graduates who take these jobs will be able to command much higher salaries. The average RN wage is highest in the Minneapolis area, followed closely by Madison.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area, top 10
RN jobs are far and away the most common DNP job, and among the most common of all nursing and healthcare jobs. Employment rates in the LaCross-Onalaska area are the highest, followed closely by the Duluth area. The RN employment rate in LaCrosse puts the city at No. 9 compared to about 400 other cities and metro areas across the country. Several other cities in the top 10 in Wisconsin also have higher rates than the state overall; the metro areas of Minneapolis and Chicago, which both cover portions of Wisconsin, are the exceptions.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area, top 10
While many people who pursue DNP education will continue working directly with patients, roles in healthcare leadership also are quite popular among DNP graduates. These jobs tend to be heavy on the responsibilities, with salaries rising along with job duties. Average nurse administrator wages are by far the highest in the Janesville-Beloit area among the cities with available data, though several other cities and metro areas in Wisconsin have six-figure average wages for these jobs.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area, top 10
After RNs, nurse administrator employment rates are the highest in most states, and this holds true across most of Wisconsin. In eight of the top 10 cities with available data have employment rates for nurse administrators that exceed the state’s overall rate, with the Duluth area boasting the highest employment rate for these DNP professionals.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area, top 10
Tackling the nursing shortage will mean making sure that more people complete nursing education programs, and teaching at the postsecondary level is a very popular option for DNP graduates who want to help pass along their expertise to the next generation of nursing professionals. While limited data is available for cities in Wisconsin, wages for postsecondary nursing instructors are highest in Madison, which is the state capital and home to the University of Wisconsin’s main campus.
Average annual postsecondary nursing instructor wage by city/metro area
Employment rates for nursing instructors aren’t exactly blistering in Wisconsin, but the Milwaukee area should provide the best chance at finding employment for postsecondary nursing instructors.
Postsecondary nursing instructor employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Across the country, as well as all around the state of Wisconsin, nurse anesthetists have the highest average wage of any of the DNP jobs we studied. Their wages are highest in the Duluth area, which includes portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin, but all Wisconsin cities with available data have average nurse anesthetist wages well over $150,000. Duluth ranks No. 6 among the nearly 400 cities with available data, while Milwaukee is No. 8.
Average annual nurse anesthetist wage by city/metro area
Nurse anesthetist jobs are easiest to find in the Minneapolis metro area, which includes portions of Wisconsin, followed closely by Duluth, though less data was available for this job than for most of the others on the list.
Nurse anesthetist employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Many DNP programs offer an education track in midwifery, which involves assisting women through pregnancy, labor and after birth. Scant data was available for both salary and employment rates for nurse midwives, but salaries peak in the Minneapolis area.
Average annual nurse midwife wage by city/metro area
Based on the limited available data, nurse midwives will have an easier time finding jobs in the Minneapolis area than in either Milwaukee or the Chicago area, which includes portions of Wisconsin.
Nurse midwife employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Only the fullness of time will reveal the extent of damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic on the American healthcare system. But given that the situation already was precarious as far as nursing employment is concerned, leaders in Wisconsin would be well-advised to continue working to attract DNP graduates.
Our analysis of BLS data covered a total of six jobs that are commonly available with a DNP degree, though that’s not meant as a complete listing of all jobs. We used the May 2019 data, published in April 2020.